2007 Iowa Hawkeye - Offense
Iowa Hawkeye Offense
Preview 2007 - Offense
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What you need to know: The Jake Christensen era starts after
four years of the Drew Tate regime, but backup quarterback
Arvell Nelson is a terrific prospect who could push hard this
fall. With the 1-2 rushing punch of Albert Young and Damian
Sims, the ground game will be strong if the questionable
offensive line pulls out a better season than last year (when
injuries were a major problem). Dominique Douglas and Andy
Brodell are emerging targets, and they'll shine with a passer
like Christensen winging it. As good as Christensen might be,
the offense will try to run first.
Passing: Jake Christensen
23-35, 285 yds, 2 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Albert Young
178 carries, 779 yds, 7 TD
Receiving: Dominique Douglas
49 catches, 654 yds, 2 TD
Star of the offense: Senior RB Albert Young
Offensive line, quarterback
Player that has to step up and become a star: Sophomore
QB Jake Christensen
Unsung star on the rise: Junior OT Dace Richardson
Best pro prospect: Richardson
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Young, 2) WR Dominique
Douglas, 3) C Rafael Eubanks
Strength of the offense: Running back, starting receivers
Weakness of the offense:
Projected Starter: Everyone's been waiting to see what sophomore
Jake Christensen, the star recruit of a few years ago,
could do in a full-time role. He got a little bit of work in
when Drew Tate got banged up last year, and he wasn't bad
completing 19 of 30 passes for 256 yards and two touchdowns with
an interception against Northern Illinois. He's not all that big
at 6-1 and 215 pounds, but the left-hander is extremely strong
with a next-level arm and great passing touch. He's not a
runner; he'll stand in the pocket and sling the ball all over
the field. While he should be a good one, he'll have to keep
improving to cement his hold on the starting job this fall.
Projected Top Reserves: Don't assume Christensen
is a bet-the-farm sure thing to be the opening day starter.
Christensen is easily the team's best passer, but redshirt
freshman Arvell Nelson can play and adds far more
options. He's 6-4 and 210 pounds with excellent mobility. From
the same high school as Troy Smith, he's a playmaker who can
give the offense another dimension that Christensen can't.
While technically neck-and-neck with Nelson for the number two
job, 6-4, 215-pound redshirt freshman Ricky Stanzi is the
third man in the race. He's also more of a runner than
Christensen, and he has the type of live arm that can stretch
the field, but he's not the prospect that Nelson is, but he was
great this spring.
Watch Out For ... more of a quarterback controversy
than you might think. Everyone loves the backup quarterback.
There might be some rumblings if
Christensen, who all but locked up the job going into the fall, isn't magical early on.
Strength: The backups. Nelson and Stanzi don't
have any experience, but they're among the Big Ten's best
reserves. Nelson is as dangerous as they come, while Stanzi is a
Weakness: Overall experience. After three years of Drew Tate, the Hawkeyes are starting over with an unknown starter. Whoever it
is might be a good starter, but he'll be an unknown.
Outlook: Is it possible the quarterback situation
has been upgraded despite losing a star like Tate and a veteran
backup in Jason Manson? Tate was inconsistent last year,
partially due to being banged up and partially due to having a
bad season, and Manson stunk. With Christensen under center, the
passing game should be better, but many defensive coordinators
would rather face him than Nelson.
Projected Starters: No one suffered more from the problems on
the offensive line than senior Albert Young, who ran for
779 yards and seven touchdowns after tearing off 1,334 yards as
a sophomore. He's 5-10, 209 yards and fast, fast fast, but his
biggest run was a mere 26 yards. He has the power, he has the
toughness, and he has good hands, finishing fourth on the team
with 30 catches for 225 yards and a score. Now he has to stay
healthy after being banged up throughout his career. If he can
last a full season, and if the line is fine, he'll tear off
1,000 yards without a problem.
Paving the way will be long-time blocker Tom Busch. The
5-11 235-pound senior rarely runs, only gets used in the passing
game around the goal line, with three of his eight catches going
for scores, and is as dependable as they come starting 26
straight games. He might be used more in the offense this year,
especially as a pass catcher.
Projected Top Reserves: Considering Young's career
problems with injuries, backup Damian Sims will play a
big role. The team's second leading rusher with 664 yards and
six touchdowns, and a solid five-yard-per-carry average, he's a
quick scat back who always produces when called upon. Young
might be the team's most talented back, but Sims is the most
Behind Busch will be 6-0, 230-pound junior Jordan McLaughlin,
a former linebacker who spent all of last year as a backup
blocker. When hard yards or offensive production is needed,
Busch will get the call, but McLaughlin will see more than his
share of time.
Watch Out For ... Sims to get the ball even more.
There was a nice rotation between the top two backs, mostly out
of necessity, and Sims showed what he could do. Young is the
main man, but he needs as much help as he can get to last the
season in one piece.
Strength: Pizzazz. Young and Sims are home run
threats every time they tough the ball. They can each tear off
yards in big chunks.
Weakness: Depth. With talented third stringer Shonn Green off
the team, there could be a relapse of 2004, when the running
game went into the tank after a Spinal Tap drummer array of
strange injuries, when Young suffers his annual bumps and
bruises and if something happens to Sims.
Outlook: It's up to the offensive line. If it's
good, the ground game will crank out far more than the 143 yards
per game it came up with last season. If not, Young and Sims
will have to make their own plays, and as last year showed, Sims
can do that, Young, for the most part, can't. With the passing
game making defenses respect the deep ball more, there will be
lanes for the backs to run through. If the main 1-2 punch can
stay healthy, they'll be terrific.
Projected Starters: Last year's weakness is now a
potential strength with the return of junior Andy Brodell
at split end and sophomore Dominique Douglas. Brodell is
a 6-3, 200-pound speedster who blew up late last year with seven
catches for 159 yards and a score against Minnesota and a
six-catch, 159-yard, two touchdown torching of Texas in the
Alamo Bowl. He wasn't a consistent deep threat and he only had
two scores over the first 11 games, but he should be tremendous
if there's more consistent quarterback play.
Douglas led the team with 49 catches for 654 yards and two
scores as a true freshman. Now he knows what he's doing and
should be the go-to target who'll have to matchup with
everyone's top corner. While he was steady, he was rarely
spectacular and needs to do more with the ball in his hands, and
has to start making more big plays, to become the type of
receiver who keeps the chains moving and becomes a star.
Losing tight end Scott Chandler hurts, but 6-4, 255-pound junior
Tony Moeaki is a good veteran who caught 11 passes for
140 yards and three scores. He's a decent blocker and an
excellent receiver who'll flourish now that he's the main man.
Don't be shocked if he becomes the main man on third downs and
grows into a star.
Projected Top Reserves: 6-3, 195-pound sophomore
Trey Stross had a nice first year making 13 catches for
189 yards and a touchdown. He should turn into a tough receiver
who can make plays across the middle or deep, and should also be
a key special teamer.
Also battling for time behind Douglas is sophomore Anthony
Bowman. Only 5-11 and 167 pounds, he's not big, but he's one
of the team's fastest players and will occasionally see time as
a kick returner. In time, he should develop into one of the
team's top field stretchers.
Pushing for time behind Moeaki at tight end is 6-4, 250-pound
junior Brandon Myers who'll grow into a good receiver. He
was mostly a special teamer last year, he only has one career
grab with all the good players in front of him. With excellent
athleticism, he'll quickly be a factor.
Watch Out For ... more consistency. The receivers
were just trying to keep their head about water going into last
year, and they came through fine. Douglas has to keep improving
and Brodell has to prove his final two games of last year
weren't a fluke.
Strength: Potential. Lots and lots of potential.
Brodell has generated a huge buzz after what he did to the Texas
secondary full of NFL talent, while Douglas showed what he could
do as a true freshman. Moeaki will be fantastic.
Weakness: Depth. Stross, Bowman and James Cleveland, who'll play
behind Brodell, haven't done much of anything yet. If Brodell
and Douglas get hurt/stink, the corps will be back to square
Outlook: There's good size, excellent speed, and a
lot to get excited about. While the corps might still be a year
away from being anything that'll scare anyone, it'll be
productive and will open up a can of home runs on some
unsuspecting secondaries. It'll be a good enough corps to win
with, but not strong enough to carry the offense for stretches.
Projected Starters: The line might be a concern, but it
has a good one to build around in rising junior Dace Richardson
at left tackle. He's 6-6 and 305 pounds with the athleticism to grow
into an All-Big Ten performer. He wasn't healthy last year and struggled
at time with his consistency, but he should be dominant at times this
season now that he's 100%.
Richardson might be the most talented player up front, but this is
Rafael Eubanks' line. The 6-3, 285-pound sophomore is among the best
centers in the Big Ten, and he should be in the hunt for All-America
honors if he can stay healthy. A starter right off the bat, he missed
time in the middle of the year with an ankle injury. He's a sound, tough
all-around blocker who plays like a mature veteran.
Also returning to start is 6-5, 305-pound junior Seth Olsen, who
split time between guard and tackle and will get the nod at right guard.
A mauling run blocker, he'll also play a big role in protecting the
left-handed quarterback, Jake Christensen.
Taking over at right tackle, and with the main job of keeping
Christensen clean, will be 6-7, 305-pound sophomore Kyle Calloway.
Originally considered for a guard spot, his frame and tight end-like
athleticism makes him more of a natural tackle. He saw a little time,
but not enough to feel comfortable going into the year.
The other open starting spot, left guard, will be handled by 6-7,
295-pound sophomore Andy Kuempel after seeing a little time at
tackle. He's built for the outside and will have to prove he can be
steady on the inside. Playing next to Richardson will help.
Projected Top Reserves: Playing behind Calloway
will be defensive tackle Alex Kanellis, who made 19 tackles but
was mostly known for playing a week after undergoing an appendectomy.
He's not huge at 6-4 and 295 pounds, but he's plenty tough. He'll battle
with 6-8, 318-pound junior Wesley Aeschliman for the job. With
his size and potential, he'll get every shot this fall to push Calloway
out of the starting role.
At some point, 6-7, 300-pound sophomore Dan Doering will be a
factor. He has as much talent as anyone on the line at either tackle or
guard, but he hasn't been able to see much action yet. He'll start out
behind Kuempel at left guard.
Watch Out For ... lots and lots of shuffling. It's
going to take a while to make the pieces fit. Don't get comfortable with
the depth chart.
Strength: Type. The Iowa linemen are all, for the
most part, clones at around 285 to 300 pounds and tough. That allows for
the coaching staff to play around with different ideas and different
combinations to try to find the right fit. It also helps to have Kirk
Ferentz, who always puts together great lines, as the head coach.
Weakness: Guard. In a perfect world, Olsen is playing right
tackle on the other side of Richardson, but he's been forced to move to
Outlook: And here's the problem ... maybe. Give
credit to the coaching staff for not letting the line go into the tank
after a slew of injuries hit the front five, and now it's going to take
a phenomenal effort to be better overall than last year. Eubanks and
Richardson are near-certain all-stars, and there are several good
prospects to eventually step up and shine. If everyone stays healthy,
this will be a far better line at the end of the year than at the
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